In the introduction of my thesis I want to motivate the use of alternative neutron converters to helium-3 by mentioning the exploding cost of latter.

I am not directly involved with helium-3, since I work with the alternatives. Online research yielded for instance a congressional research paper by Shea and Morgan from 2010, and the wikipedia page for helium-3 links to an IEEE site also from 2010, mentioning the price explosion in that year.

Is one of those source apt for citation? Is there a best way to cite prices in academia?

  • Maybe you can find a public budget of a project of the scale you are targeting, where it is possible the He-3 is quoted. In any case, I imagine your target audience are the people working (and purchasing) with He-3, and they do know how expensive it is without needing you to tell them.
    – Davidmh
    Dec 15, 2014 at 11:27
  • For prices, I assume citing like how Oil and Gold are cited is probably okay. Cost/standard unit. Oil is traded in $/barrels, gold is traded in $/ounces, and helium is possibly traded in $/liters since it is a gas.
    – Compass
    Dec 15, 2014 at 13:58

1 Answer 1


There are two, as I see it very different questions you pose. as for the aptness of the sources, the Shea and Morgan paper is a publication that can be referenced because it is traceable and likely to be remaining for a long time in unaltered state. It is also published by a formal body.

When it comes to citing prices the question is perhaps trickier. Not knowing the market for helium-3 I do not know where the prices are determined but usually there is some form of exchange that determines prices based on the market and this makes prices shift quickly. In such cases, one needs to find a source where the market swings are documented and stored so that one can cite a price at a specific time in a time series that people can revisit if they wish to check the correctness of your assessments. This type of referencing is common in economics when discussing price variations, trends etc.

  • Thanks! To my knowledge, helium-3 is only traded in auctions any more. I have no idea, if the results are published anywhere. Well, I think I will use the paper.
    – M.Herzkamp
    Dec 15, 2014 at 11:13

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